Debating India

BIHAR 2005

A "fraud" on the Constitution: NDA

Tuesday 24 May 2005, by VYAS*Neena

Bihar bandh today; ``no faith in Governor’’

The Centre’s decision was taken in a hurry to stop government formation: Advani

NEW DELHI: The Presidential Proclamation to dissolve the Bihar Assembly is an "unscrupulous" and ``anti-democratic’’ act and ``fraud on the Constitution,’’ the National Democratic Alliance said on Monday, even as it described reports that it indulged in buying MLAs and horse-trading as ``nonsense.’’

The NDA said it had no faith in the impartiality of Governor Buta Singh and demanded that he be recalled and free and fair polls held early under a new dispensation.

Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (United) have jointly called a `Bihar bandh’ for Tuesday.

"It will be our poll plank"

They said the Centre’s action would be a major NDA poll plank. From now up to the elections, which have to be held within six months, the NDA would hold meetings and rallies to highlight the Centre’s "denial" of a popular government to the people of Bihar.

In the morning the NDA leaders met at the residence of the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee here to assess the one-year old United Progressive Alliance Government’s performance. However, in the wake of the latest developments, the discussion turned to Bihar.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Vajpayee said that just when the people of Bihar were looking forward to the formation of a government, the Centre’s move was an ``assault on democracy and the people will give a fitting reply during the elections.’’

Bharatiya Janata Party president L.K. Advani said the Centre’s decision was taken in a hurry to ``pre-empt government formation.’’

JD (U) leader and NDA’s Chief Ministerial candidate Nitish Kumar described allegations of horse-trading by the alliance as ``nonsense (bakwaas).’’ He was not playing politics of defections (jod-tod) but Independent and other MLAs ``voluntarily’’ gravitated towards the NDA. He indicated that ``someone would approach the courts’’ to question the validity of the Presidential order. Mr. Kumar claimed that the NDA last night got past the bare majority number with the support of over 130 MLAs in a House of 243. Asked how many Lok Jan Shakti Party MLAs were supporting him, he said: "You ask them." When the press insisted that he give break-up figures to back his claim of 130, Mr. Kumar refused to do so. Mr. Vajpayee said the press conference was over.

Later, some top NDA leaders said had not the Proclamation been issued, some LJP MLAs would have merged with the JD(U) on Monday morning and hours later Mr. Kumar would have approached the Governor laying claim to forming a government. But Mr. Kumar himself refused to claim that he had the numbers from the LJP, which would make a ``merger’’ legal under the new anti-defection law requiring the support of two-thirds of the total strength of the party.

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